Two Brothers Pose for a Photo Before Lightning Struck Them – Facts Analysis

Picture about Two Brothers Pose for a Photo Before Lightning Struck Them
Two Brothers Pose for a Photo Before Lightning Struck Them


Two brothers pose for a photo in Sequoia National Park moments before getting struck by lightning in August, 1975.

Two seconds after Mary McQuilken snapped this shot of her brothers posing on top of Moro Rock in Sequoia National Park, California a powerful lightning bolt struck them.

A hiker just outside the frame was killed and Sean (on the left) eventually also died from complications associated with his injuries. Michael McQuilken (on the right) survived. The family was hiking in the Sierra Nevada during August 1975 when the incident occurred.

Picture of Mary McQuilken
Mary McQuilken


This is a widely circulated photograph claiming to show two brothers posing for a photo in Sequoia National Park just before they were struck by lightning in August, 1975. It is said that the boy on the right, Michael McQuilken survived, but the one on the left, Sean died from complications. It is also said that another person was killed in that lightning strike on top of Moro Rock. The story is a fact, but has some misinformation.

Picture of Top of Moro Rock
Top of Moro Rock

Michael McQuilken was 18-year-old from San Diego, when on Aug. 20, 1975, he went on a hiking trip to the Moro Rock in California’s Sequoia National Park, along with his brother Sean and sister Mary. At the top of Moro Rock, as Michael’s sister Mary (shown in image above) was taking this picture, the weather got worse and their hair started standing on end, which they did not realize was a sign that lightning was about to hit. Seconds after taking this picture, lightning bolt struck them. Michael McQuilken described about this terrifying experience in his blog saying:

“The flash of white light as bright as arc welding, the deafening explosion, the feeling of becoming weightless and being lifted off the ground. Sean was collapsed and huddled on his knees. Smoke was pouring from his back. I rushed over to him and checked his pulse and breathing. He was still alive. I put out the embers on his back and elbows and carried him down the path towards the parking lot, with the rest of the group following. All of the hair on his body was completely burned off, and from what I have been told, it had never grown back. He was unconscious at the time, and did not recover consciousness for about 6 months.”

Sean was knocked unconscious and suffered third-degree burns in this tragic lightning strike incident of August 1975, and he died committing suicide in 1989. McQuilken was just knocked onto the ground and survived, and his sister Mary escaped injury. At least three people were hit directly that day by the lightning bolt, also injuring many others, and one man in fact died.

This photo of two brothers before lightning struck was used for years to warn people about the dangers of pending lightning strikes. The lifting of hair is because of the electrical charges in the lightning atmosphere. So in times of lightning, one must follow certain safety measures to avoid any kind of harm. Mentioned below in the reference section are some guidelines for the same.

Hoax or Fact:

Fact with some misinformation.


Decades later, hair-raising photo still a reminder of lightning danger
Lightning Safety Precautions

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